Chiswick House Guides Visit Stowe

In July 2011, a group of Chiswick House Guides visited Stowe in search of more examples of the work of William Kent

Last year Chatsworth, this year Stowe. Chiswick House guides are always on the lookout for ‘must do’ outings to places related to our ‘earthly paradise’ so in July a group of us decided we would go in search of more examples of the work of William Kent.

At Chiswick William Kent introduced a style of ‘natural’ garden that moved away completely from the formalised layouts of the previous generation and which paved the way for his famous pupil, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.  As Horace Walpole said of Kent ‘he leaped the fence and saw that all nature was a garden’.  At Chiswick one can still see his influence in the carefully constructed vistas, the cascade, the temple and the exedra with its Roman statuary.

One of William Kent’s most famous creations can be found in the gardens at Stowe in Buckinghamshire. In its late 18th century heyday Stowe was the most magnificent landscape garden in Britain. William Kent pioneered the second phase of the gardens in the 1730s and created the ‘Elysian Fields’ – a paradise of classical mythology. One of its best known monuments is the ‘Temple of British Worthies’ which was based on an unused design for the garden at Chiswick (it was intended to frame Chiswick’s exedra, the grassy area of lawn at the back of the house now outlined by hedging and Roman statuary).

Given ‘The Temple’s’ connections with Chiswick we thought it would be fitting place to take our group photograph an we can thoroughly recommend exploring this stunning landscape to Chiswick House and Garden fans. Getting out and about to visit other places with ‘Chiswick’ connections has been a very rewarding ‘spin off’ arising from the common interests that that we House guides have shared since we met as volunteers.

Volunteering at Chiswick has turned out to be very rewarding in many unexpected ways and our thanks to Chiswick House and Gardens and English Heritage staff for making it possible.

Cathie James, CHGT House Tour Guide 07/09/11

House tour guides from Chiswick visiting Stowe in Buckinghamshire in 2011

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